It was a tough spot that Lightning goalie Mike Smith was asked to step into: his first playoff start.
He was taking the place of mainstay Dwayne Roloson, who was as big a reason as any why Tampa Bay had racked up 10 of the 16 wins needed to win a Stanley Cup.
That they didn't get No.?11 on Monday was no fault of Smith's. If anything, his work forestalled what became a 3-1 Bruins victory.
"He made the saves," said gritty Tampa Bay center Nate Thompson. "He gave us a chance."
Said Smith: "I thought I played pretty well. I gave up two goals. They were tough plays. You're never satisfied when you give up a goal."
The first of those, the game-tying tally by Nathan Horton, was a laser from the left circle, unstoppable by virtually any netminder outside of hockey's Hall of Fame.
"I think I could have gotten a better push across," Smith said. "But it was a tough one. You can always get better. There's always something you can do."
There was little he could do on Brad Marchand's second-period game winner.
Same spot. Same result.
Smith was something of a surprising, and gutsy, choice made by Lightning coach Guy Boucher to start such a key contest.
Boucher kept the decision to himself until informing Smith after the morning skate.
Goalie Smith gives Bolts a chance after bold call
Tampa Tribune | May 24